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I Still Know What You Did Last Summer

movie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: I Still Know What You Did Last Summer

Starring: Jennifer Love Hewitt, Brandy Norwood
Director: Danny Cannon
Rated: R
RunTime: 96 Minutes
Release Date: November 1998
Genres: Horror, Suspense

*Also starring: Mekhi Phifer, Freddie Prinze Jr., Jennifer Esposito, Muse Watson, Bill Cobbs, Red West, Jack Black, David Benton

Review by Harvey Karten
No Rating Supplied

Say what you want about cell phones--how intrusive they are, how bad-mannered their users who seem to prefer to speak on the phone rather than to the people they're with-- the lovable foursome that star in this movie could have sure used one. "I Still Know What You Did Last Summer" has its fair share of scream-scenes like its predecessor, "I Know What You Did Last Summer," and ups the ante with more atmospheric geography and a mystery murderer who is as responsible as the guy with the hook for the pileup of bodies. "I Still Know..." is directed and written by fresh hands but its core performers--Jennifer Love Hewitt and Freddie Prinze, Jr.--are amiable holdovers from the box office smash that took in $125 million earlier this year.

Most of the action takes place on a remote Bahamian island (actually filmed on an earthquake-torn resort two and one-half hours' drive south of Mexico's lovely Puerto Vallarta). This is an ideally secluded location for stabbings, shootings and hangings, particularly with the phones all dead and a hurricane insuring that no outside help will disturb the glorious mayhem. Since its principal character, Julie James (Jennifer Love Hewitt) has purportedly wasted a fisherman who preferred to catch human beings on his large and threatening hook, she is plagued by hallucinations and nightmares and can scarcely know them from reality. After the traditionally scary opening scene, this one taking place in a church confessional to which Julie has retreated to acknowledge her role in a killing, she receives the first good news in a while. Her best friend Karla (Brandy) has just won four tickets to a remote island in the Bahamas for guessing the capital of Brazil on a radio contest. (If you think something is fishy in her answer, "Rio de Janeiro," you might be the only one in the predominantly teen-aged audience to presume so.) When Julie's main squeeze, Ray (Freddie Prinze, Jr.) plays hard to get, she settles for handsome Will Benson (Matthew Settle) as her roommate while Karla invites her favorite beau, Tyrell (Mekhi Phifer).

Director Danny Cannon knows how to give a Hitchcockian air to an island-style Bates Motel, where the four young people run into a hotel with a manager, Mr. Brooks (Jeffrey Combs), whose distaste for teenagers leads him to express some of this movie's few witty lines: "I see four spoiled city kids who would not know a hurricane if it blew up their ass." Brooks, whose hotel is empty because of the approaching hurricane, gives the quartet the two honeymoon suites and advises them that if they need help, he has "a marginally trained staff of five" to serve them.

Like the previous blockbuster, "I Still Know..." follows the usual conventions of the horror genre, playing up the false alarms in the opening scenes while piling stress upon tension the closer it approaches its climax. The usual scenes of savage butchery are there, courtesy of Ben Willis's (Muse Watson) prosthetic arm, and nine bodies pile up at strategic points along the way. The killer could have done away with the object of his disaffection several times but prefers to torture her, at one point by sealing her into a coffin-like sun- tanning box and turning up the juice. But the most endearing torment occurs as Julie performs in the hotel's karaoke bar, the song lyrics on the screen suddenly changing to "I Still Know What You Did Last Summer."

It's a strange thing about these slasher movies. The heroes are usually people about the age of twenty. The formula is followed to the letter, and in fact, in this case, most of the conclusion is predictable as soon as Ray takes off from his job and heads for the tropics. Yet because the youthful performers know how to project abject fear while at the same time projecting their thirst for revenge, we care about them and get caught up in the tautness. This time around, you're going to be surprised by the identity of the second killer in a movie with a good deal of humor supplied by Mekhi Phifer, whose idea of action has nothing to do with the fisherman's agenda and with special joie de vivre by Brandy Norwood as the excitable gal who may not know the capital of Brazil but who is so charming that the radio d.j. gives her the prize anyway. "If anyone asks," she counsels, "Don't tell 'em it rained all the time." Here's a young woman who at the age of 20 already knows how to make the homebound friends feel envious and wish they were there.

Copyright 2000 Harvey Karten

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